Libya says missing CIA prisoner "committed suicide"

By Stephen Grey

ONE of the most important members of the Al Qaeda captured by the CIA in the months after 9/11 has been found dead in an alleged “suicide” in a jail in Libya, according to the country’s news media.
Ibn Al Sheikh al Libi, a former Al Qaeda camp commander, was controversially sent by the CIA to Egypt as part of the agency’s “extra-ordinary rendition” program and was allegedly subject to extreme torture, returned back into CIA custody, and then transferred onwards to Libya.
Described by former CIA director George Tenet in his 2006 autobiography as “the highest ranking al-Qa’ida member in U.S. custody” just after 9/11, al Libi was captured by the CIA before the agency had established its own secret prison program. And he was one of a handful of the most senior Al Qaeda leaders in US custody that were sent for interrogation at the hands of foreign countries. Continue reading Libya says missing CIA prisoner "committed suicide"

On the trail of torture

UPDATE: Binyam Mohamed returned to the UK on February 23, 2009

(Published in the Sunday Times, Feb 8, 2009)
by Stephen Grey and David Leppard

Prisoner No 1458 at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, woke up each day last week in his solitary cell and waited for the inevitable: the arrival of a team of guards to take him down the corridor in shackles to be painfully force fed through a tube.
This was not another attempt to extract a confession, but an attempt to keep Binyam Mohamed alive. The 30-year-old former resident of Notting Hill, west London, was continuing his hunger strike against what he sees as failed promises to set him free. When he last saw his lawyer two weeks ago, his arms, she said, stuck out of his 6ft body “like little thin twigs”.
Although previously accused by US authorities of plotting a terrorist attack on American soil, Mohamed has not been charged with any crime. His former military prosecutor declared a month ago that he presented no threat to either America or Britain.
After losing almost 50lb in weight, and wasting further by the day, he was probably in no state to be told or even to care that two High Court judges in London last Wednesday were appealing for the public release of “powerful evidence” that might help prove his astonishing claims of mistreatment to be true. The issues at stake, said the British judges, were nothing short of the lofty interests of “law, free speech and democratic accountability”.
Involved shocking allegations of extreme mental and physical torture at the behest of America’s CIA, it is a case that has threatened to embarrass the new administration of President Barack Obama, whose inaugural speech included a pledge to halt such activities, as well as to shed an unwelcome spotlight on what exactly the British government knew and kept secret about potential crimes committed by its closest ally. Continue reading On the trail of torture

London student’s jungle war escape led to ‘rendition’ trap

Sunday Times, June 10, 2007, by Stephen Grey.

A BRITISH student who was caught up in fighting in Somalia has described how he fled for his life only to be arrested as a suspected Al-Qaeda member and then rescued by a British consul from a secret operation to transfer terrorist suspects to Ethiopia for interrogation.
Reza Afsharzadagen, 25, from north London, was among hundreds of refugees forced to flee battles last December between Islamic radicals who had seized power in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, and Ethiopian soldiers trying to install a rival United Nations-backed government.
After dodging bombs from American warplanes deployed in support of the Ethiopians and trekking through jungle for 13 days, Afsharzadagen reached safety in Kenya. But there he was detained as a suspected terrorist and questioned for nearly a month without being charged.
He and three other British Muslims who were arrested – Shahajan Janjua, Hamza Chent-ouf, and Mohammed Ezzoueck, all from London – were eventually returned home and cleared of any suspicion of terrorist activity after the intervention of the Foreign Office. Continue reading London student’s jungle war escape led to ‘rendition’ trap

CIA ran secret prisons for detainees in Europe, says inquiry

by Stephen Grey
Friday June 8, 2007 The Guardian
The CIA operated secret prisons in Europe where terrorism suspects could be interrogated and were allegedly tortured, an official inquiry will conclude today.
Despite denials by their governments, senior Polish and Romanian security officials have confirmed to the Council of Europe that their countries were used to hold some of America’s most important prisoners captured after 9/11 in secret.
None of the prisoners had access to the Red Cross and many were subject to what George Bush has called the CIA’s “enhanced” interrogation, which critics have condemned as torture. Although suspicions about the secret CIA prisons have existed for more than a year, the council’s report, seen by the Guardian, appears to offer the first concrete evidence. It also details the prisons’ operations and the identities of some of the prisoners. Continue reading CIA ran secret prisons for detainees in Europe, says inquiry

CIA still hiding 'ghost' captives

by Stephen Grey and Sarah Baxter, the Sunday Times

DOZENS of key terror suspects are still being held in unknown locations, despite President George Bush’s declaration that the CIA is no longer operating secret jails.
High-level detainees such as Khaled Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, the September 11 ringleaders, are now in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba but there are still “ghost prisoners” among more than 6,000 who have been questioned by America and its allies since 9/11.
Their fate is among several unresolved issues raised by Bush’s new anti-terror legislation. His plans for military tribunals to try suspects are being held up by negotiations with leading Republican senators, including John Warner, chairman of the Senate armed forces committee, and John McCain, a favourite for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, insists that those accused should have access to the evidence against them and that torture should not be used. He is backed by Pentagon lawyers, who fear captured American soldiers will otherwise be vulnerable to mistreatment. Continue reading CIA still hiding 'ghost' captives

UK aided CIA with torture flights, says official report

Stephen Grey
Wednesday June 7, 2006The Guardian

An inquiry by Europe’s leading human rights watchdog will today name 14 countries which are involved in or complicit in the CIA’s programme of detaining terrorism suspects for transfer to countries where they may be tortured.
After a seven-month investigation, Dick Marty, chairman of the Council of Europe’s committee on legal affairs and human rights, will accuse Washington of adopting a legal approach which is “utterly alien to the European tradition” by organising the so-called extraordinary rendition of dozens of suspects.
In his report, which has been obtained by the Guardian in advance of its publication in Paris, Mr Marty accuses the UK of not only offering logistical support to the CIA operation but also providing information that was used during the torture of a terrorism suspect in Morocco.
Mr Marty, a Swiss senator and former state prosecutor, describes the involvement of the 14 European states as varying from providing staging points for CIA operations or stop-over airports for its jets, to exchanging information with the United States that has led to renditions or torture, to allowing the rendition of terrorist suspects from their soil. Continue reading UK aided CIA with torture flights, says official report

Suspect's tale of travel and torture

Alleged bomb plotter claims two and a half years of interrogation under US and UK supervision in ‘ghost prisons’ abroad

Stephen Grey and Ian Cobain
Tuesday August 2, 2005
The Guardian

A former London schoolboy accused of being a dedicated al-Qaida terrorist has given the first full account of the interrogation and alleged torture endured by so-called ghost detainees held at secret prisons around the world.

For two and a half years US authorities moved Benyam Mohammed around a series of prisons in Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan, before he was sent to Guantánamo Bay in September last year.

Mohammed, 26, who grew up in Notting Hill in west London, is alleged to be a key figure in terrorist plots intended to cause far greater loss of life than the suicide bombers of 7/7. One allegation, which he denies, is of planning to detonate a “dirty bomb” in a US city; another is that he and an accomplice planned to collapse a number of apartment blocks by renting ground-floor flats to seal, fill with gas from cooking appliances, and blow up with timed detonators.

In an statement given to his newly appointed lawyer, Mohammed has given an account of how he was tortured for more than two years after being questioned by US and British officials who he believes were from the FBI and MI6. As well as being beaten and subjected to loud music for long periods, he claims his genitals were sliced with scalpels. Continue reading Suspect's tale of travel and torture